Sunday, August 20, 2017

Million Dollar Point, Millennium Cave and Ansanvari

American Forces were stationed on Espiritu Santo during WWII, and after the war they tried to sell their equipment to the French, who administered Vanuatu (or New Hebrides as it was known). The French knew it would be very expensive for the Americans to ship everything home, so they didn’t want to buy anything, hoping instead that the Americans would just leave things behind. However, the Americans didn’t like this idea, so they dumped everything into the sea. The story is that over $1 million dollars’ worth of trucks, jeeps, cranes, and other equipment was dumped off of what is now known as Million Dollar Point, just east of Luganville. Much of this equipment is in fairly shallow water so we went and snorkelled it. The wind was up, so there was a lot of silt in the water, but it was still very interesting to see the old “junk”.
Upside down tank? Crane?


After several days, we motored back to Luganville did a very large provisioning. Fortunately, the LCM grocery store provides free delivery and the butcher will freeze and vacuum pack meats. We took advantage of being back in Luganville to go on the Millennium Cave tour with SV Free Spirit and new friends, Andy and Brianna of SV Wanderlust V (formerly our Bluewater Cruising Assoc. friend, Glenora Dougherty’s, boat!). We found the cave a bit underwhelming, but the river canyon was pretty and refreshingly cool.
Dina at the cave entrance

After the cave, we climb some more to get to the river

Artistic(?) shot of light coming into the river gorge

With our boat full of provisions, we went east to Ansanvari on the SW end of Maewo Island. It seemed to rain the entire time we were there. We then read that Maewo is the rainiest island in Vanuatu! We went ashore to deliver a letter from cruisers who had spent a lot of time in Ansanvari in the early 2000’s. The first person I showed the laminated letter with embedded pictures said, “Mr. Gene!” This family was well remembered and loved by everyone we met in the village.

We next sailed to nearby Ambae Island and found sunshine! We anchored in Vanihe Bay on the NE side of the island. We dinghied and paddleboarded all around for a few days, exploring the caves, crevasses, reefs and freshwater streams on the black sand beach. In one crevasse, with cold, fresh water coming from it, we found a couple of lion fish. The larger one refused to come out of the crevasse, but the other one posed for the camera.
Lion Fish

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Palikula Bay

We carried on to Palikula Bay to the NE of Luganville. We spent many days in Palikula and could have stayed longer! It is a lovely bay with very friendly locals. It is also easy to catch a ride to Luganville for last minute supplies.

A trio of boys canoed over to the boat to chat. They gave us information about the coral, fishing and octopuses. Dina mentioned to them that she wanted to see a live octopus (as often people bring her dead versions of the animals she expresses an interest in!). One day they came with the shell of a sea turtle. 
"Octopus boys" showing us a turtle shell
The next day, they arrived at the boat with a live (semi!) octopus in their canoe! They took Dina to the reef where they had found it and were all looking for octopus when the father of one of the boys, who was spear-fishing nearby, called over. He had a small, live octopus clinging to his arm! Fortunately, this octopus was too small for their dinner table. Dina petted the octopus before the man finally peeled it, like very strong Velcro, off his arm. The little octopus was confused and kept trying to cling to the man. It inked the water and finally shot away and hid under a rock. Of course, Dina did not have a camera!

The boys, now known to us as The Octopus Boys, returned to the boat daily, bringing fresh coconuts, a turtle shell, to invite us snorkelling, to chat and eat cookies and to jump into the water from the bimini (cockpit roof).
The Octopus boys

We went exploring the reef on our own looking for octopus and found this wonderful, curious, old guy (we really don’t know if it is male). We spent a long time looking at each other!
Octopus partially hidden in the rocks

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Resorts around Luganville

We had a lumpy 7-hour downwind sail north to Michener Bay on Malo Island. The bay is lovely and we explored in the dinghy, snorkelled and paddleboarded. 

After two days, we left for Ratua Island and anchored next to SV Roxanne in a clear, turtle and coral-filled bay. We had planned to enjoy the spa, horseback riding and restaurant at the Ratua Resort for Dina’s birthday. Unfortunately, the Kiwi manager has a strong dislike for cruisers and was very unwelcoming when we went ashore to make reservations. His opinion is that cruisers are lowly, riff-raff, “sea gypsies,” and very unlike his wealthy, fly-in, resort guests. The local Vanuatuan staff was very kind and welcoming to cruisers; it was just our bad luck that it was the manager who met us at the dock.

So, instead of going to the resort, we had a wonderful birthday dinner for Dina onboard SV Roxanne with Lynn and Tom.

Next stop was a two hour motor around the island to the yacht-friendly Aore Resort. Dina and Lynn went for a long walk on Aore Island. Then the four of us went for cocktails at the resort and then enjoyed the famous Santo steak dinner. It was probably the best steak we’ve ever eaten.

Aore Resort is just across the bay from Luganville, the second largest city in Vanuatu. We went across to town and did some provisioning and exploring. Our plan is to keep going north to other islands in Vanuatu, but it will be difficult to buy provisions in the small remote locations on the northern islands of Vanuatu. So, Malcolm tried to figure out what we’d need to be fully stocked for 2-3 months. Before doing a big provisioning, we thought we’d explore some nearby anchorages.